A lovely post from Gloria!
Christ shine your light on me
Let the light of your promises
Produce rainbows that cling onto the tips of my eyelashes.
It isn’t long now until we enter into 2015 and I along with millions of others around the world are in a state of reflection.
2014 had its ups and downs, sometimes it was going way too fast or much too slow. Depending on how your year played out you may look towards 2015 with anticipation or dread. One thing the new year guarantees us is a new beginning. A chance to start over, to love better, to be more committed, more ambitious, to slow down or finally get up and do something.
Most of all it is a time for renewed vision; renewed hope.
When I look back I am thankful for 2014. This year I saw the truth in romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
I look forward to 2015 with renewed hope that God can do exceedingly more than we can ask for or imagine, I also keep the families of the victims to the latest air tragedy in my thoughts and prayers, and the fight that the black community in the states continues to fight close to my heart, trusting that God can bring out much change and healing from very painful situations.
I will finish this post with a video I watched last night by @simplyfeli that encouraged me immensely and I pray it does the same for you too!
God bless and I wish you a very happy new year!
This time 3 weeks ago, all the glory to God, I graduated with a 2:1 in a course I had been dreaming of doing since I was the chubby pigtailed 14 year old. As I am entering into a new chapter in my life I want to share 3 things I have learnt during my 3 years at university.
I learnt very quickly that people are drawn to what’s genuine. Starting university I was very conscious about trying to not appear too weird or ditzy or quiet or too christian or not christian enough. I believe doing this only made me miss out the most from truly getting to know a few others.
I think we all want to be seen as fun, chatty, bubbly and warm especially if you are an introvert in a very extroverted world and I believe we can often force such an image just to be accepted. I know there were times I felt like that but I found it is much more exhausting pretending to be someone you aren’t.
However, I can now accept the fact that I can be a bit ditzy and I enjoy times of solitude, it takes awhile before I open up to people, and being in a room with more than 10 people immediately makes me switch off and I become a wallflower, I’m not outspoken and I prefer to listen before sharing something and when the time comes for it, God gives me a platform to share my testimony and everyone who knows me well knows about the weirdness.
University is a time that your character is being shaped so much and it is important to surround yourself with those who appreciate or share the same quirks, can call out the irks and in general want to encourage you to do your best. Being real and vunerable with others helps them to open up and be real too.
You will get places by being yourself, being false about your character may get you somewhere but not as far as being yourself would. If you are a fish and you judge yourself by the ability to climb a tree, you will always fall short. You were made to swim; so swim well.
In the words of Dory,
Just keep swimming
To the one who will convince me.
You might very recently have received an automated voice message from Jesus telling you how much he loves you and to pass the message on to an x amount of friends.
Maybe you were scrolling and saw a post telling you to like if you are on his side or keep on scrolling if you are on the enemies side.
I have kept a very tight lid about this mostly because once upon a time I would have been the person to like or share just to look christian and sometimes I will give the post a facelift if I think it is still a good message to send except I get rid of the bit telling you how many people to send it to.
But this morning. This morning I have reached a breaking point.
The post I read today was Jesus telling everyone to tell everyone else that he is coming back and if they send it to x amount of friends then there will be a big miracle waiting for you.
I am very happy to burst the bubble of you chain-mail sharers out there and tell you… That is not the real Jesus.
Real Jesus doesn’t work like that.
Real Jesus will never tell you pass the Gospel to x amount of people at an x amount of time so you can receive a specific blessing.
Everything about these posts contradict the character of Christ and the news of the Gospel.
If 90% of the Bible is about grace and how you can do nothing humanely possible to be right before God apart from Remaining in Christ, why would sharing a post to a specific amount of people at a particular time suddenly win you a miracle or a seat in heaven?
When Jesus wants to bless you, he will bless you. He won’t ask for favours or use scare tactics to get you to do something. He won’t challenge how legit you are just because you choose to not share spam or keep on scrolling.
Chain-Mail Jesus will desperately use scare tactics in order for you to share a post and bother others. Real Jesus uses Love and truth to change your life and those you encounter.
Let’s grow up a bit and
let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth
1 John 3:18
[By the way if you share this post with 7 of your friends by 5pm today you will not receive 1 or 2 but 7 blessed friends who will stop sharing chain-mail Jesus posts]
I thought I’d share my quiet time this evening.
I have no doubt that God has been bringing up the topic of asking, seeking and knocking lately
I first read the story of the persistent widow which was highlighted and I came across again and a day or two later it was Matthew 7
Ask, Seek, Knock
And this morning John 15; Remaining in Christ and as disciples who abide in Christ; it is expected that we should bear much fruit and that whatever we ask the father he will do.
There is that word again: Ask.
We probably ask God for many things from a good day, to blowing all our troubles away. At some point in our lives we have asked God for things, and God wants us to ask him But I have something to admit.. for a long time I was scared of asking God for personal things that weren’t exactly a priority. Depending on how much I needed it I would only ask for it. I wouldn’t dear ask for a single desire of my heart if it had nothing to do with God’s kingdom.
I didn’t want to seem selfish or even give God the opportunity to disappoint me by asking too much. So I would shove my needs deep within and pretend like they weren’t there or I was just too selfish. Despite the tears I would still say this thinking and believing that they were desires and needs that didn’t go into the list of things that could be cast on God. As though all of a sudden he would stop caring about me if I brought it up but how silly of me. Hasn’t God heard it all? Doesn’t he search the heart and examine the mind? I wanted to appear righteous and self-sufficient before the one who is my righteousness and provider.
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ Jeremiah 31:3
During my quiet time in the morning the word ahava would pop into my thoughts every now and then. I knew beforehand that it meant love/beloved in hebrew but I wanted to do more research on it. Reading Romans 8 and it is about God’s everlasting love. I found the root word for ahava is hav and hav means ‘give’ in english. A funny aspect of the root word Hav is that it sounds like the English ‘have’. It made me ponder how to truly have is to give. The King James Version of 1 Corinthians 13 calls love: Charity and Charity is the act of giving . The giving of help and an attitude of leniency or kindness. It also goes full circle in its meaning by meaning beloved.
It dawned that the reason God loves a cheerful giver is because he himself is a cheerful giver
‘he did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not with him graciously give us all things?’ Rom 8:32
For God loved the world that he gave his only son
We see that this is a consistent trait in God’s character that he gives because he loves and because God is love and his spirit lives within the believer, he has commanded and enabled us to love one another. I thought to myself that God wants us to see the bigger picture, that love isn’t this here today and gone tomorrow emotion, or the butterflies you feel after a worship sesh, but it is an action, the act of giving. That when he loves on us by giving us all that we need, it is to move us to give to others. To love how he has loves us.
The lives of early believers was a life marked by love for one another. Jesus said in John 13:35
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
What did the early church do?
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.
Acts 2: 42, 44-47
The word shared pops up 4 times. They got that love wasn’t a whimsical emotion but an action, an action that is marked in giving, and giving generously and cheerfully.
While reminding me of the confidence I have to approach God with any request and to believe he will do it; I’ve learnt just as much about his grace and the same grace he shows us we must show to others if we love him
On to the question is it ok to ask God for a partner, a home, a trip abroad, material and passing things?
Yes it is
But they should never be more of a priority than seeking him and his kingdom first.
We can ask for wisdom and God will give it to us, this applies to our prayers because God will answer our prayers according to his will and what pleases him
What pleases God?
God knows everything that we need. And he says that in seeking his kingdom first everything else shall be added. To delight in him and he will give us the desires of our hearts, he knows what we need before we even ask, and he says he will answer our prayers before we even finish asking (Isaiah 65:24)
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
I’m in love
And for the first time in a long time
I know what it is like to have butterflies Like chandeliers
Off of starry skies
I don’t know in what other way to describe this feeling
Besides it being like walking pass a hedge of thorns and obscuring leaves
Not finding a way out for miles
Then there’s that opening
Revealing the tender heart of the Secret Garden
In all its mischief
And in all its glory
I see the sun’s light shining through
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?
I am not too sure when I decided to start sitting on the far side of Church, where all the other students were, but convincing myself to sit with everyone else probably went along the lines of this:
Stop being so guarded all the time. Open up a bit, be friendly and sit where they are sitting.
So that Sunday rather than take a seat on the other side of the room from everyone else; I peered around to see if there was a free seat or even a face I noticed to the right of the hall. Feeling quite alien taking steps towards the other half of the auditorium I sat down, hoping no one would notice but I was met with smiles and brief hugs. I was accepted. The weeks that followed every Sunday I felt comfortable sitting with them, I will turn up to Church or any sort of gathering knowing that they would be there.
Then one day I no longer felt accepted, one day I no longer felt approved and shrunk back into my anonymity yet still wanting (way too much) to feel like I belonged, despite my bitter and insecure heart I continued to hang around desperate for their attention and to feel like I was part and not apart, to be with and not without.
And the question was finally asked, “Tosin, when did you stop going to Church to worship God?”
I had finally noticed it in the way I stopped singing from my heart, the way prayer barely escaped my soul. How chunks of sermons would return to me like shreds of paper that formed disjointed sentences. All the verses such as Galatians 1:10, Proverbs 29:25, John 5:44 and especially Jeremiah 17:5 that would pop up every now and then during quiet times were becoming clear. Like Jesus to the blind man, I was regaining my sight yet the people still looked like trees. My heart and mind had wondered away from my first love, and like a lighthouse in the distance his word spread throughout the darkness of my mind, ‘Come back to me’ (Joel 2:12).
I was confused and angry, angry that I wanted their approval so much, confused about what I do when I go to Church. (Yes it was that bad)
The Holy Spirit would remind me to go back to what you did at first. (Revelations 2:5)
“What did I do at first? Sit by myself again? Be the lone wolf? Oh no, Abba I can’t go back to that…” then he would remind me of what I said back when I was in first year of uni, a romantic and wishful me that said “Jesus, even if I don’t make any friends this year, I have you and that is what matters” and it would all flood back how I did absolutely nothing for people to like me and how God just brought the right people into my life and removed the wrong people. Though some days were filled with hours of a wrenching loneliness, a need to feel wanted and heard they were quickly met with joy and an invite not only to spend time with Abba but some more of his kids, who took a liking to me I do not know how. I was less stressed and didn’t care what others thought of me. I had a embarrassing zeal that shouted through opened windows and rooftops, “I belong to Jesus!”.
“But what if someone asks questions? What if they do notice that I am not hanging around them often? What if they think I am just being a hater?” I debated within myself.
“They, They, They! Isn’t it what I think about you that really matters?!” said the one who affirms me.
The following Sunday I stayed to the left of the auditorium, like a child on time-out I sat down with those who were unfamiliar and much older; often leaving for a few weeks without branching off at the end of the service towards the familiar to say hi. Something returned to me that I thought had died, though there were a whole load of other issues going on and occasionally I would return to sit with the students of the Church, it finally came back and it was zeal.
Seeking the approval of people and not of God’s I found kills your joy and zeal but what I didn’t realise at the time was that we often seek the approval of others when we don’t believe or know what God says about us. We look at ourselves and others in the same way that we see ourselves or look to others to find who we are and what we are worth. People become something to be feared because our hope is in them rather than in God and people make great friends, partners and colleagues but they make terrible gods.
We won’t speak up about certain issues or things that pain or bother us, maybe it is the other way around and we do outrageous things for likes and retweets, a selfie a day, titles and awards, people we met or worked with thrown about so that others may verify us, sometimes it could be dumping our baggage on others, maybe we play out stereotypes and indulge in ignorance and ‘ do as the Romans do’ just so that we don’t feel alone, just so to quiet the voices in out head that say we aren’t worth anything and cling and make gods of those who give us the slightest bit of attention, but nothing can fill that hole besides the one true God, Yahweh.
I think we can often talk about approval as though it were a Christian-Unbeliever problem but it happens even in the Church, even as a Christian to other Christians, we seek their approval so desperately because we do not believe the approval we now have through Christ Jesus. There is this damning thought that boils within a mind that has built it’s house on sand; that unless other Christians accept me, God won’t and as a result, we watch what we say, is it Christian enough? What we do or what we join and what we agree/disagree with just to get a few ratings and likes that will be here today and gone tomorrow. I can say the people no longer look like trees walking around, I can see now that the time when I was forgotten and overlooked by others was all God’s doing. He wanted me to come back, he wanted me to spend time with him again, he wanted me to cast all my cares and worries on him lest I enslave myself once more chasing after people.
It dawned on me today that the reason I didn’t believe God accepted me was because I didn’t know any verses that told me that I was. I have a saviour who says he will never cast me out (John 6:37), I have been accepted by Christ (Romans 15:17) and I was chosen before the world began, predestined to be part of God’s family and that God WANTED and was HAPPY to choose me. (Ephesians 1:3-6) because of Jesus, I am 100% approved!
You know I wrote a list for you
I said things like
He’s admirable and kind
Kinda goofy but cool
Foolish but never rude
Like max I liked that
You knew I wrote a list for you
Speaking out every misconception
My dreams went crazy for you
I said stuff like respectful
And with tears in my eyes
I said stuff like respectful
And I can’t read the rest
Because I am reading torn pieces
For every time I gave up on you
That list turned into 2
But I still didn’t have the guts
To throw it all into the sea of waste
So with every bitter thought
That list will part into 4
Until I was looking at shredded hands
That had no meaning
I can sometimes make up a stand, a think and a film
But as meaningful as vanities get
such as this feeling of regret
There is one thing I left out from the time of heated anger
‘Even though he may be known to not be all of these things. God still loves him.’